July 21, 2018 00:16:21
Deliveroo’s riders have until the end of Friday (July 20) to sign a new contract or risk losing their jobs, after the company admitted it lost their contracts last week, but would not explain how it happened.
Some of these workers were shocked to discover their contracts had a new term, which they fear Deliveroo could use “harshly” against them.
There is a new term, under the heading “liability”, which shifts responsibility for undelivered food or botched deliveries to the riders.
The clause requires workers to “accept liability for any losses suffered by Deliveroo as a result of [your] negligent provision of the Services”.
But the company’s spokeswoman said on Wednesday: “There has been no change to rider contracts”.
She also said the company is “asking a small number of riders to sign the same contracts other riders are already on.”
“There are two possibilities about the lost contracts — a cock-up or a conspiracy,” said Josh Borstein, head of employment law at Maurice Blackburn.
“The emergence of a new version of the contract which contains a new unfavourable term for the workers gives credence to the conspiracy theory about the lost contracts.”
Fears of being unfairly blamed
For the fortunate riders who kept a copy of their old contracts, the company asked them to simply produce it — and they were spared from the new term.
One rider, Aaron (not his real name) told the ABC that he was “not so lucky”.
He signed up online as a Deliveroo rider two years ago, but said he was never provided with a contract.
“If the reason that they couldn’t locate my contract was because there never was one supplied, that raises red flags.”
“Why was no contract supplied? I suspect it was a strategy from the outset … to eventually short-change riders like me.”
Aaron was concerned that Deliveroo could “unreasonably” blame him in situations where it is not his fault.
He also feared it might lead to his “already low” pay getting docked, and it would be “impossible” to argue back.
Deliveroo pays its riders $9 per bicycle delivery, as opposed to an hourly wage. The rate is $10 per delivery if the rider uses a motorcycle or scooter.
“Most of us earn less than the minimum wage [$18.93 per hour],” he said.
“And some of these large food orders are well over $100, so understandably this new clause makes us very nervous.”
On Friday, Deliveroo’s spokesperson said “this clause has never been used and would only ever be used if it were proven that a rider was at fault for not delivering an order, for example, if it were an incident of theft”.
Secretly longer distances, less pay
Several Deliveroo riders have told the ABC that they had noticed a drop in their earnings since May, when the company allegedly “extended” their delivery distances (and as a result, delivery times) without consulting them.
One rider said: “They have updated the system to increase distances, but they have not changed how much we earn per delivery.
“I’m incurring more petrol costs and earning less as a result of making fewer deliveries.
“It’s difficult to continue making a living, and working with Deliveroo.”
While they were riding “no more than 2 kilometres” for deliveries in the past, riders say they now have to pedal anywhere up to 10 kilometres or more (back and forth).
This reduces the number of deliveries they can make per hour and, as a consequence, their pay.
The ABC has seen a copy of a petition from 124 riders, which was sent to Deliveroo in June, voicing their concerns over the issue. Here are some of the responses:
- “Insanely long-distance delivery — not good.”
- “I rode about 10km to do an order. I spent 45 minutes.”
- “More time and more effort for same money.”
- “They send us very far now. Our income has been decreased.”
- “Deliveroo increased the delivery distance without letting us know and we are not getting extra money for long distances.”
The company’s spokesperson said on Friday “zone boundaries were altered earlier in the year so that we could work with more restaurants and serve more customers”.
In addition, Deliveroo disagrees with the workers on their pay situation.
“The impact of this is that riders’ earnings have increased.”
These workers have aired their concerns with Transport Workers Union (TWU), which is assisting their advocacy efforts.
“Deliveroo’s actions indicate the problem with the companies that operate in the on-demand economy,” said TWU national secretary Tony Sheldon.
“They refuse to consult with workers and reduce their rates and working conditions at a whim with little thought for the consequences to their livelihoods.
“Riders depend on their jobs — a survey shows one in four riders work full-time hours, 40 hours or more, per week.”
Follow David Chau on Twitter @chaudave.
July 20, 2018 15:57:51